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Great minds do think alike, because Cara’s post yesterday is the perfect lead-in to this one.

I am indeed ashamed to admit that I haven’t ready anywhere near enough of the sort of things our heroes and heroines would have had in their libraries. Now my sins are coming home to me, because I’m writing a hero who insists on being very well-read. I am hoping that reading more of what he has eagerly devoured will help me get into his head. (Or maybe I’m just procrastinating, but that’s another post!)

This is why I’m currently slogging through Paradise Lost. It’s something I’ve just heard referenced too many times and I feel a dunce for not knowing it. Some of it is slogging, especially the long passages full of more allusions that make me feel still more ignorant. But I am nothing if not stubborn and there are some rewarding gems in there.

Being slightly obsessive-compulsive (OK, maybe more than slightly!) I’m trying to come up with a list of works that will at least help me fake a broader knowledge of literature prior to 1820.

One area I need to brush up on is the classics. My O-C tendency isn’t quite strong enough to make me learn Greek or Latin but I’d like to read at least a few works in translation. Somehow I think having viewed some of those old Technicolor movies based on mythology isn’t going to help me here!

Re Shakespeare, I’ve read Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Othello, and seen quite a few more, but there are quite a few plays I haven’t experienced either way. King Lear and The Tempest are a few that come to mind. (More shame on me!)

Another area is novels; this hero doesn’t despise a good novel. I’ve read everything by Austen and a goodly few by Scott but I haven’t read anything earlier. (It is a disgrace, I know.)

Re poetry–I’ve read some of the Lake poets but nothing by Byron. (Gasp!)

So two questions for the Riskies and visitors:

1) Which works would you recommend I read in the cause of developing my bookish hero? The ones that will help me look better-read than I am but are also the most interesting, thought-provoking?

2) Am I getting too obsessive-compulsive here? On second thought, maybe I don’t want to know! If it helps, it helps. I am writing, too.

LADY DEARING’S MASQUERADE, RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Best Regency Romance of 2005

Do you remember those embarrassing games that other kids always wanted to play? Games like Truth or Dare? Well, here’s an embarrassing game for adults — for adults who read, that is. It’s called:


Or, at least, that’s what I’m calling it until someone thinks up a better name.

To play it, you name a category of fiction or literature (or if you want, make it film or something else) that you think you should be well versed in….or want to be….or pretend to be….or are, except for one or two (or thirty) embarrassing omissions. Then, of course, you name the most shocking omission you can think of.

Yes! Humilitation all round! And great fun to play at home, in the car, or at an academic conference (if you already have tenure).

Okay. I’ll go first.

BRITISH LITERATURE: As you may have guessed by the laughing Albert Finney pictured above, I have never read Fielding’s TOM JONES. There are many other greats of British lit that I haven’t read, but I think this is the one I most WANT to have read.

DRAMA: I try to have a basic working knowledge of the great plays….but I confess I’ve never seen (nor read) Chekhov’s THE THREE SISTERS. (Um, and while we’re on the subject, I can say the same about THE SEAGULL, UNCLE VANYA, and all but the first act of THE CHERRY ORCHARD — which I was supposed to read in high school. Don’t tell Mrs. Johnstone I never finished it, please. It was a busy week.) So when fellow drama lovers start talking about someone always wanting to go to Moscow…or maybe it was St Petersburg…I just nod my head and try to look intelligent.

WORLD LITERATURE: If you include American authors, I’ve never read (drumroll, please — long list coming): LES MISERABLES, WAR AND PEACE, DON QUIXOTE, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, THE GRAPES OF WRATH, MOBY DICK, and so much more!

ROMANCE:Okay, this is perhaps my most embarrassing omission of all, given that I am making it in the Risky Regencies blog…. I have never read Laura Kinsale’s FLOWERS FROM THE STORM. Yes, I know it’s great. Yes, I’m sure I’d love it. Yes, I have meant to read it for years. And yes, when I’m around other romance writers (particularly Regency writers) I always pretend I’ve read it. But I’m confessing to you now. I haven’t.

As for MOVIES: Hmm…I haven’t ever seen ANIMAL HOUSE, or THE MALTESE FALCON, or … wow, I’ve spent far too much time seeing movies — I can’t think of many really embarrassing omissions. (Guess I know what I was doing when I should have been reading TOM JONES!)

As for SCIENCE FICTION TV & MOVIES: — I’ve never seen a single episode of DR WHO! (Doesn’t he looked shocked!)

Okay, there, now that I’ve begun — who here has an embarrassing omission to make??? 🙂

Cara King —

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